49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman insisted his group was on the verge of a breakout game. All they needed was a date with Washington’s sieve-like defense. In Monday night’s 27-6 demolition of the Redkskins, Colin Kaepernick did whatever he wanted passing-wise and threw for over 200 yards for just the third time all season. He found Anquan Boldin for two scores and Vernon Davis for another, picking mostly on Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson in the process. Kaepernick could have tossed a fourth touchdown had he not overshot Davis deep down the middle for a would-be 36-yard score behind Brandon Meriweather.
Is this a sign of things to come for Kaepernick? I’m not sure. The 49ers will in all likelihood continue to lean on their running game down the stretch. But Kaepernick does have some favorable matchups to look forward to. Up next are the Rams in Week 13. St. Louis has been playing better defense of late, but they’re exploitable on the back end as long as you can get Chris Long and Robert Quinn blocked off the edges. In Week 14, the 49ers host the Seahawks. They’ll be without two of their top three corners. Kaepernick then gets a pair of NFC South opponents – the Bucs and Falcons -- to round out the fantasy playoffs schedule in Weeks 15 and 16. Tampa Bay ranks 21st against the pass, while the Falcons check in at the No. 24 spot. Atlanta’s pass defense is even worse than that ranking suggests. Kaepernick has been a QB2 for most of the season, but he has QB1 upside over the final month.
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49ers at Redskins Quick Slants
Robert Griffin III was sacked four times and hit at least a dozen other times. Washington’s offensive tackles couldn’t handle the speed of Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith off the edge. The Redskins had just 16 total yards of second-half offense at the two-minute warning. … Frank Gore ceded plenty of snaps to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. The 49ers were likely just giving Gore some rest for the stretch run. … Alfred Morris was held under 93 yards rushing for the first time since Week 6. He’s been an absolute stud on a dreadful team. … Anquan Boldin’s 94 yards were his most since his 208-yard Week 1. He remains a WR3. … Pierre Garcon couldn’t get anything going after the catch. He caught nearly all of his passes on screens and quick slants. … Josh Morgan started in place of Leonard Hankerson (knee), who is done for the year. … We noticed Fred Davis play just one snap. He was active for the first time in months. … Vernon Davis has scored in three of his past four games.
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News Nugget #1
Knowshon Moreno was the definition of a workhorse back for the Broncos in Sunday night’s overtime loss to the Patriots, rushing a whopping 37 times for 224 yards and one touchdown. He gashed the middle of New England’s injury-depleted defense all night long. But he may have paid a price. Moreno appeared to injure his right ankle in the extra period, though he continued to play through it.
Following the game, Moreno was spotted on crutches and in a walking boot. On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Moreno’s injury is not believed to be serious, while the Denver Post calls him “questionable at best” to play in Week 13 due to a “significant bone bruise” in his lower right leg. The two reports vary a tad, but Moreno appears to have avoided a long-term issue. That’s all that really matters at this point.
Owners need to monitor Moreno, who is fantasy’s No. 3 running back, throughout the week. If he isn’t cleared to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs, Montee Ball will likely carry the load while Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson mix in. Ball would be nothing more than a flex play. Consider Moreno week-to-week.
News Nugget #2
Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) missed his third consecutive start this past week. On Sunday, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported the Packers were “holding out hope” Rodgers could suit up and play on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions. However, it appears he’s going to miss yet another game.
Speaking Monday, coach Mike McCarthy said the chances Rodgers starts on Thursday are “slim to none,” though Rodgers would “like” to play. McCarthy then declined to name a starter. Scott Tolzien was benched in favor of Matt Flynn against the Vikings. It would be a surprise if Flynn didn’t get the nod. He’ll be nothing more than a back-end QB2 against a shaky Detroit pass defense.
News Nugget #3
Following Monday night’s win, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he “anticipates” Michael Crabtree (Achilles’) making his season debut against the Rams in Week 13. Harbs had been noncommittal on his star receiver’s status for weeks, so just hearing that made our ears perk up. Tuesday is the deadline for the team to activate Crabtree off the reserve/PUP list, so they’ll make that transaction at some point today. Crabtree tore his Achilles’ on May 21 and has practiced off and on for the past three weeks. The news that he’ll play next Sunday against the Rams is encouraging, but expectations need to be tempered for the remainder of the regular season. The 49ers will surely ease Crabtree back into the mix as they prepare for a playoff run. Crabtree is worth a fantasy roster spot, but he may not be the Crabtree of old until 2014. Treat him as a boom-or-bust WR3.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Jay Cutler (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 13, but he said he’d be “pretty disappointed” if he didn’t return for Week 14 against the Cowboys. … Coach Rex Ryan announced Geno Smith will remain the Jets’ starter. … The Texans will continue to start Case Keenum. … Brandon Weeden is expected to start in Week 13. Jason Campbell has been diagnosed with a concussion. … The Rams provided no update on the status of Zac Stacy (head) Monday. He’ll go through the league’s concussion protocol this week. Benny Cunningham is worth an add, but the Rams may mix and match with him and Daryl Richardson should Stacy miss Week 13. … Coach Gary Kubiak said he’ll continue to rely on Ben Tate as the Texans’ lead back after his one-yard performance. … Darren McFadden (hamstring) ran on the side at Monday’s practice and said he feels good. … Justin Forsett will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. He’s a candidate for injured reserve. … Matt Forte hyperextended his knee Sunday. He’s in no danger of missing Week 13. … Daniel Thomas (ankle) is expected to miss the rest of the season. Mike Gillislee will assume No. 2 duties, but Lamar Miller should carry much of the load. … Stevan Ridley didn’t play a single snap after losing a fumble in the first quarter Sunday night. We wouldn’t expect him to start in Week 13. … Chris Ivory said he suffered both an upper and lower ankle sprain Sunday.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Denarius Moore (shoulder) did not practice Monday. His status for Thursday is up in the air. … Stevie Johnson (groin) and Robert Woods (ankle) both returned to practice Monday. … Justin Hunter has earned more playing time, per coach Mike Munchak. … Dennis Pitta (hip) participated in Monday’s walkthrough. He’s unlikely to play Thursday, but a Week 14 return could be in the cards. … Owen Daniels (leg, short-term I.R.) is “real close” to returning. He’s eligible to play in Week 14. … Julius Thomas (knee) is expected to play Sunday. … Brandon Bostick has been diagnosed with a concussion and likely won’t play Thursday.